Feb 232020

The hardest part of any visit with the people we love is saying goodbye. Especially as we get older and realize that any goodbye could be the last one. And so it was yesterday when it came time to leave our old hometown of Show Low, Arizona.

We were up and all packed and had taken advantage of the free breakfast at Hampton Inn by the time Tiffany and her kids arrived about 9:30 to see us off. There were lots of hugs and kisses all around, and some tears shed, too. We look forward to getting together with Tiffany and her family the next time around. Last October she flew to Florida to visit us and fell in love with the area. She says she needs to bring her husband Kenny next time and get him to see it, too, and then move there. I guess only time will tell.

We left Show Low about 10 a.m. and took State Route 260 east through Pinetop-Lakeside and onto the White Mountain Apache Reservation. There was a mixture of rain and snow coming down, and a lot of snow in some places alongside the road.

We stopped at the Big Lake turnoff, and I kind of wanted to take a detour and visit with Sheriff Weber, Robyn, Parks, and the rest of the folks from that wacky little mountain town, but then Miss Terry reminded me that they aren’t real, they just live in my mind and my books. Well darn it anyways!

In the twin towns of Springerville and Eager we stopped for a potty break at McDonald’s. The restaurant is next door to Western Drug, one of my favorite stores in that part of the state. It’s like an old-time general store, where you can pick up a post hole digger, a bolt of fabric, some snacks, a rifle and ammo, and fishing gear, all in one place.

Leaving Springerville on U.S. Highway 60, we soon crossed into New Mexico under a heavy sky, and saw more snow alongside the road for miles. We passed through Pie Town, where I never have timed it right to get any pie, past the Very Large Array (VLA) of radio telescopes, and eventually made our way to Socorro. After another potty break we turned south on Interstate 25 for a short distance before getting onto U.S. Highway 380 eastbound.

I was still feeling puny from my cold, so Terry did the driving while I tried to keep her company but kept dozing off. In Capitan we made a quick stop at the Smokey Bear Historical Park, then continued further east in Lincoln County.

Any fan of the Old West knows about the bloody Lincoln County War in the latter 1870s, where gunslingers like Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett made names for themselves. Today, the small town of Lincoln is a time capsule from those violent days. Seventeen buildings in town are all part of the Lincoln Historic Site, including the Old Lincoln County Courthouse, which has exhibits on the Lincoln County War and its participants.

Maybe it’s the writer in me, but whenever we pass an old ruin like this anywhere in the country, I wonder about the people who built it and lived there. What were their lives like? Did they endure extreme hardships? Were they fortunate to be blessed with health and happiness? And what happened to them? Why did they move on, leaving what once was their dream behind?

About six hours after we began our driving day, it ended in Roswell, made famous by a supposed UFO crash back in 1947. Government authorities have claimed the fable began when a weather balloon came to earth on a local ranch, but one should never allow facts to interfere with a good story, and the folks in Roswell have built an industry around UFOs and aliens. The Visitor Center is UFO themed and many businesses incorporate flying saucers and aliens into their décor.

This little fellow was on hand to greet us when we checked into the Hampton Inn.

I have always believed that if a UFO really did end up here, it wasn’t a crash. No, I think the aliens committed suicide when they realized that they had traveled through so many galaxies only to end up in Roswell.

Today is your last chance to enter our Free Drawing for an audiobook of Big Lake Burning, the sixth book in my Big Lake Mystery series. To enter, all you have to do is click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn this evening.

Thought For The Day – Taking time to do nothing sometimes brings everything into perspective.


Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  6 Responses to “Tears, Snow, And Aliens”

  1. Roswell, NM. Your sense of humor never ceases to amaze me Nick. LMAO!

  2. Nick, you don’t happen to have a brother or a cousin in California who ran a weekly newspaper in one of the old gold rush towns. I know this isn’t much info but only caught the story on tv and missed some of the details. I’m asking as his last name was Russell, he looked like you and was a newspaper man! This fellow has since sold the paper but I think they said it was the oldest continuously published paper in CA.
    Safe travels home. Hope your daughter and her family join you in FL.

  3. Just found the new story about the CA paper. I know, should have done that first. Anyway, here is the link: https://www.cbsnews.com/video/californias-oldest-newspaper-gets-an-unlikely-editor/

  4. Hi Liz. No, my newspapers were in Arizona, Washington and Oregon.

  5. Your daughter visited Florida in October & liked it, she should come visit in the July/August time frame before she packs up & moves.

  6. There is more to Roswell than Aliens. Once was enough. They have some nice museums. When the weather is nice, we like to go out to Bitter Lakes Refuge and hike the trails with the dog. Then there is Bottomless Lakes SP just east of town. They have a nice little display that talks about the lakes. And many will daytrip down to Carlsbad from Roswell to see the Caverns and the Living Desert.

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